San Francisco is the city that is changing the world, with amazing technologies, advances in civil rights and brand-new economies.

We are bringing that same creativity and forward-thinking to redefine school. We want to prepare all our students to succeed at school and in life.

We are focused on what all young people need to discover their spark and reach their full potential: 21st century teaching and learning that is personalized and infused with real-life tasks.

Are we there yet? No. But are we getting closer? Yes. Let me tell you about some exciting things happening in our middle grades.

First, I need you to remember middle school. Or junior high. Got that in your mind? Well, we’re changing it.

“HACKING” OUR MIDDLE SCHOOLS

Last year we invited middle school principals to take part in a design lab. For months they came up with ideas to “hack” the old system and make a new one.

They took field trips to see other middle schools in action, and invited experts to share their own redesign ideas. At the same time SFUSD staff with expertise ranging from curriculum and instruction to technology collaborated to figure out how to make the changes we want to see work.

FROM “HACK” TO HAPPEN

Willie Brown Middle School, Dr. Martin Luther King Middle School and Visitacion Valley Middle School are now implementing some of these changes. Sixth graders there are engaging in more personalized, project-based learning than ever before. Their teachers are collaborating with principals and central office to make sure these changes are working for students.

Students have access to online personalized learning and content and teachers can access a resource library of projects for planning and design.

(All of this is on top of some other things we’ve already started — nearly half of our middle grade students are taking computer science classes.)

It’s an ambitious undertaking. While the pilot schools will be getting started with these, the Middle School Redesign team is hard at work with other middle schools to get them up to speed on changing their master schedules, and launching other elements to help “retool our schools.”

HOW ARE WE PAYING FOR THIS?

Anyone who’s been part of a large, game-changing project like this will know that not only is this ambitious, it requires money.

Thanks to the Salesforce Foundation, and its ongoing support of our schools, the New Tech Network Partnership is providing guidance and other resources for our schools.

And San Francisco residents, because they approved the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF), which gives us the technology to help our students access personalized and blended learning.

I couldn’t be happier for these big changes in how our middle grade students are learning. It’s one more way we are on track to helping our kids graduate ready to thrive in the 21st century.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

Vincent Matthews
Share
Published by
Vincent Matthews

Recent Posts

San Francisco Giants acquire versatile right-handed Rule 5 pick Connor Joe

The San Francisco Giants have made a minor personnel move, acquiring Rule 5 utility man Connor Joe from the Cincinnati…

1 min ago

Homicide victim stabbed near Fisherman’s Wharf was local homeless man

Before he was killed, Brook Pettyjohn once jumped into the waters near Fisherman’s Wharf to retrieve a football he had…

2 hours ago

Golden Gate Bridge tolls set to climb

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is poised to raise Golden Gate Bridge tolls as high as they…

2 hours ago

SF Preps Baseball: Marin Catholic tosses another combined no-hitter

The Marin Catholic Wildcats remained undefeated with a 6-0 win over Novato on Wednesday, and got yet another combined no-hitter…

3 hours ago

Second polarizing figure separates from SF police union

A longtime leader of the San Francisco Police Officers Association has quit after the union severed ties with his predecessor…

5 hours ago

Klay Thompson stumping for USF’s Kyle Smith to get Washington State job

OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson has filled out his NCAA March Madness bracket, and on Thursday, he…

5 hours ago